for 50 years of nurturing young talent and creating a home for opera on the Lower East Side

Sometimes called a “mom and pop opera company” and housed in the “world’s smallest opera house”at the corner of Bowery and Second Street in Manhattan, the Amato Opera celebrated its 50th birthday in 1998. In its early days, Sally sustained the company with her lovely, lyric soprano. Now she is the costume designer, known to alter a costume from a size 10 to a size 20 to fit the varied dimensions of the opera’s many casts. Tony is the maestro who knows his repertoire of operas almost by heart. For information and tickets call (212) 228-8200 or visit



for artistry as a Haitian Vodou drummer, helping to foster this rich cultural and religious tradition in New York

Mr. Augustin is a recipient of the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship, awarded in 1999 from the National Endowment for the Arts. He directs and performs with La Troupe Makandal and teaches drumming to young and college-age students. Each beat of his drum drives his mission to unmask the negative stereotypes surrounding Vodou while preserving its magic and beauty. Call (718) 953-6638 or visit for information or to book Makandal for performances.


for a life-long commitment to Yiddish culture as poet, songwriter, traditional singer, and teacher

Born in Vienna, Austria, Ms. Schaechter-Gottesman emigrated to the United States with surviving family members after the Holocaust. Singing had always been her family’s great pleasure, inspiring her later work in music and poetry. Her compositions have helped spur a revival of Yiddish song.


for fostering South Asian culture in Jackson Heights and nourishing the city with its fine sweets

When Mr. Hamid’s father established Shaheen Sweets in 1973, it was the first Indian and Pakistani sweet shop in New York. Some of the store’s confections are not only sweet to the palate, but lovely to look at. Candies like the orange, pretzel-shaped jalabee, and the fudge made from sweetened fried milk called burfee require great skill to perfect. Now the proprietor of five separate shops (including two in Queens and one in Manhattan), Mr. Hamid also is active in community affairs, particularly focused on promoting ethnic and religious diversity.


for tireless work promoting New York’s community gardens and casitas

As director of GreenThumb, New York City’s community gardening program, until 1998, Ms. Weissman cultivated a strong “rats to roses” ethos. She encouraged hundreds of gardeners to transform many of the ugliest parts of the city into the most beautiful, and supported casitas, the little houses surrounded by gardens that recall the look and feel of the Puerto Rican countryside.